Advice for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Advice for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As we become more aware of the genetic markers that increase genetic predisposition to different forms of cancer, I think it is very important to use this knowledge pro-actively – in the most positive way. This does not mean necessarily resorting to radical surgery – but increasing the body's many abilities to help protect itself – and understanding what increases your chances of remaining free of this modern day scourge.

Cancer is predominantly a disease that relates to our immunity in many ways. We have cancer cells whizzing around our blood stream all the time, but our immune system prevents them from gaining the upper hand. It is then a combination of different factors that suppress this process and weaken the system, which leads to problems that can include cancer.

What are the factors that can weaken our systems so profoundly?

Long term stress, shock, chronic and persistent lack of adequate quality sleep, low exercise levels, nutritional deficiencies, toxicity and poor lymphatic drainage are the main problems that I feel are the main issues.

Long term stress/anxiety

Many of us suffer from these type of emotional states so persistently, that we can forget what its like to relax, unwind and feel secure and comfortable in ourselves. This leads to prolonged periods in which we are over adrenalized, with high levels of adrenaline and cortisol in our blood streams – i.e. the “fight or flight” response. This effects us in many different ways – particularly our endocrine system, which can lead to hormonal imbalances. This can be one of the trigger points for certain forms of cancer. Difficulty in relaxing leads to long term chronic physical tension too, which can become a vicious circle – as our mind, body and spirit elements are so interconnected.

Recognising that this is an area that you can be really pro-active in addressing is very important – both in relation to your general quality of life as well as the preventative healthcare element:

  • Go to your Doctor and ask to be referred to a CBT practitioner to help address specific worries or concerns, particularly if they relate to past trauma. Finding a good, experienced and well recommended psychotherapist or hypnotherapist who also uses NLP/TFT can also be incredibly effective and relatively fast acting.
  • Traditional Chinese Acupuncture can be particularly effective on helping you to relax, loosen up and address some of the metabolic responses to stress and tension. Remember that each treatment will be completely orientated towards your own individual requirements – there is no “one size fits all” approach.
  • Communicate openly – talking to your nearest and dearest about your concerns can help things maintain a healthy perspective – “a trouble shared is a trouble halved” is so true.
  • Having a regular aromatherapy massage can really help prevent stress and tension getting out of hand. Using essential oils regularly in your bath, shower/skincare will also help contribute to the maintenance of health and happiness in a myriad of different ways.
  • Helping yourself to becoming more mindful of where you allow your thoughts to go – generating a degree of self discipline over your emotional reactions and responses – are key skills in this world. Regular meditation/relaxation are essential if you regularly suffer from stress. Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates can help. Listening to the “audio version” of Ekhart Tolles “A New Earth” can help gather a greater understanding of how we can react and respond to life in a way that is more helpful to us.


There is some evidence to suggest that shock can be another trigger factor in some forms of cancer.  Homeopathy – such a gentle, subtle therapy – can be useful here. It can help you recover more quickly from the psychological and physical effects of an injury or emotional shock. Arnica pills and cream can be indicated – although a trained practitioner may prescribe additional remedies.

Bach Flower Rescue Remedy is a useful addition to your "fast aid kit", and Rose and Neroli essential oils can also be useful.

Talk about your feelings around any trauma, don't bottle up your responses as this can magnify the impact. Crying can be a natural and important way of releasing the emotions.

Lack of quality sleep

So many of us experience long term sleep deprivation, and it can certainly lower your immune system as well as impact on your health in general and your mood in particular. There is a division of beliefs regarding the correct amount of sleep required for good health – but the latest research is that we need 7-8 hours most nights to cover adequate healing, renewal and repair. Deep sleep also enables our minds to process new learning and understanding of our experiences during the day. If you are feeling stressed, tense or permanently tired – just try increasing your sleep allowance by an hour or two as a priority – it might be the most important investment in your health and wellbeing you ever make, and its free! If you find it difficult to sleep, try these tips:

  • Take an aromatic bath before bed – Mix 15ml SLS free Bath & Shower Gel with 2 drops Neroli, 4 Lavender and 4 Marjoram and add to the bath water after it has run. Or try our Sweet Dreams pure essential oil blend.
  • Drink Chamomile or Valerian tea before bed.
  • Valerian capsules can also help you relax and get to sleep more easily/deeply.

Low exercise levels

Exercise is key to overall health and vitality in so many different ways. There are numerous studies citing the ways vigorous, regular exercise helps us maintain our health – as far as circulation, lymphatic drainage, immunity, blood pressure, cholesterol, mood and emotional balance, quality of sleep, weight and metabolism, and many other areas are concerned. There is no way around it – regular, vigorous exercise is key to good health!

Try and find ways of exercising that are enjoyable/varied/sociable – to help you maintain regularity. If your stress levels are high, try and ensure at least one of your three are relaxing (see previous info on stress). Swimming, walking (fast pace), cycling as well as gym workouts – they all count! Even if you have an active life – exercise for its own sake has a much greater impact on your health and vitality, so don't try and wriggle out of it.

Nutritional deficiencies/toxicity

There are many ways in which we can be deficient in vital nutrients – either because our diet is poor, or because our individual requirements for nutrients is far exceeding the vitamins and minerals we normally require. Our systems can express various levels of toxicity if we eat foods that are full of adulterants – such as processed food high in chemical preservatives, flavour enhancers, bleaching agents, artificial sweeteners, colourants, refined sugars and trans fats. If your general health is poor (often reflected in poor skin condition, frequent infections, low energy and hormonal/digestive problems) a visit to a good nutritional consultant can be one of the best courses of action. This process should not just be about getting you on various highly priced supplements (although some maybe very helpful for you) but about which foods to increase and which to reduce. As a general rule – and particularly when considering cancer prevention – the advice will probably include:

  • Daily fresh seasonal organic (where possible) green vegetables.
  • Increasing your intake of essential fatty acids and avoiding trans fats.
  • Daily fresh organic fruit.
  • Reducing highly refined chemically adulterated foods.
  • Reducing red meat intake – increasing tofu/fish/white meat.
  • Daily nuts, seeds and regular intake of varied pulses.
  • Increasing your clean water intake – 1.5 litres daily. Reducing caffeine laden drinks/alcohol.
  • Reducing refined sugar and avoiding synthetic sweeteners altogether (there is a strong link to cancer with the synthetic sweeteners that are so high in diet foods and drinks)

Certain supplements are often recommended according to your symptoms of “dis-ease”, your lifestyle and your stress levels. These may include pro-biotics, to help re-balance your digestive system and help you digest your food, absorb your nutrients better and boost your immunity. Vitamin C (magnesium ascorbate) is a vital cancer preventative and often deficient in a diet low in fresh fruit and vegetables. Calcium and Magnesium are often lacking, especially if your stress levels are high and your diet has been poor. Selenium, Chromium, Iron and Zinc are often deficient in those with low energy/immunity/fluctuating blood sugar levels.

Poor lymphatic drainage

The lymphatic system plays an important role in protecting against disease and infection as well as removing harmful toxins from our body. Poor lymphatic drainage is often an issue in those of us who live sedentary lives with high stress, and will be exacerbated by a poor diet and physical tension. Natural, efficient lymphatic drainage relies on physical movement – the lymphatic system has no muscular walls, and is located just below the surface of the skin in fine, sensitive networks. These can flow sluggishly if there is little regular muscular contraction (exercise) and cellulite (so often an issue for us girls) is an indication of lymphatic congestion. Regular aromatherapy massage will help – particularly with essential oils chosen specifically to help this issue – such as Geranium, Juniper, CypressLemon and Rosemary. The best course of action however, is to visit a Vodder qualified lymphatic drainage practitioner. This very gentle but profoundly effective treatment will help tonify your lymphatic system and stimulate detoxification. Some forms of this “treatment” involve deep, bruising techniques and actually damage the fragile lymphatic system, and are to be avoided at all costs.

Finally one of the most important elements in the prevention of breast cancer is regularly checking your breasts, by self examination, and staying positive and optimistic! Even if you have breast cancer in your genetic line – we are all individuals. If you are pro-active in your health care, and you stay strong and positive in your approach to life – this in itself is a real reinforcement of your health and wellbeing . If you find a lump or area of congestion – just pop to your GP and have it checked out. It's almost always benign, and even if it isn't your investment in your health and vitality will help you recover more quickly from whatever treatment you require. So pro-activity works from whichever way you look at it!

I hope you have found this information useful. Please feel free to contact me if you would like any further help or advice.

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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